Cotton process in South India

The region of Tamil Nadu in South India, is known as the Textile Valley of India, contributing to 1/3rd of the textile business in India. I explored the region to gain a deeper understanding of Organic Cotton cultivation including the hand weaving process of WAFFLE fabric.

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The main benefit of organic materials is that the crops aren’t treated with Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms. Theses toxins are seriously harmful for workers, poisoning farmers and factory workers too, who have to breathe in their fumes during the manufacturing process.

No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn't damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 88% less water and 62% less energy. Conventional cotton uses more insecticides than any other crop in the world; in fact about 16% of the world's insecticides and 7% of pesticides.

With non organic farming the chemicals seep into run-off water after heavy rains, poisoning lakes, rivers and waterways. Seeing volumes managed at just one mill really illustrates the importance of limiting chemical use on a broader scale. Our responsible dying facilities carefully manage all waste generated in order to avoid careless damage.

Tamil Nadu is also known as the Yarn Bowl of India as it produces 40% of the total yarn manufactured. Despite growing concerns, still only a small percentage of this yarn is organic cotton. Committed retailers including H&M, (who recently became the world’s largest buyer of organic cotton) are slowly increasing the accessibility of it and other sustainable fabrics.

A key part of taking this trip was to understand exactly each stage of the process a WAFFLE blanket or cushion goes through before it is finally delivered to the end user. What has been the journey of production, and who’s hands have been impacted along the way?

Once the yarn has arrived with the weavers it goes through lots of sorting before it is ready to weave. Experiencing the rhythmic skill and speed of these hands at work is mesmerising. Years of practice and satisfaction in the separating of each individual thread like this before finally warping onto the loom.

WAFFLE products are produced at small batch level and the process positively impacts the lives of those involved at every stage. The final product has been handled with love and care from farm to fabric. The quality and character that can be felt in each piece is testament to this love of craftsmanship and good natural materials.

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Ciara McGarrity